Prep boys' basketball: Murray tops Cottonwood, 67-48

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Murray • The ability to play both inside and out on the offensive end is something just about every coach yearns for. Murray coach Jason Workman certainly has the pieces in place to be able to do that this season, and the Spartans showed it Friday night in beating Cottonwood 67-48.

Nate Aland, a 6-foot-10 center, led the Murray charge with 23 points while brothers Ryan and Chase Topham combined for 19 in the backcourt. Austin Simmons led Cottonwood with 12.

"We have to go into every game playing the percentages, and the percentages are in the paint," Workman said. "Nate's blessed with some really good shooters on his team as well. When they do come down on him hard, he's got some kids he can kick it out to. When we play that way, it makes us really difficult when we're executing on offense because we have a little bit of both."

The third quarter on Friday provided a great example of the inside-out play Workman is looking for. Holding a 35-28 edge at the break, Murray immediately established Aland down low in the third.

He scored the Spartans' first eight points of the quarter but sat the final few minutes. Then the guards took over, as the Spartans stretched the lead to 52-36 at the end of the quarter and Cottonwood couldn't respond.

"We knew we had to play this game inside-out, and I thought the third quarter, we did a good job of spreading the floor and throwing it in to Big Nate, and he came away with stuff for us," Workman said. "I thought that's the difference. We didn't turn it over, and we played the game inside-out and were able to stretch out the lead a little bit."

Aland said Murray has some of the best shooters in the state, but for his part, he certainly has the mindset to take advantage of his size.

"I just go into every game thinking, 'I'm bigger than everyone. I should be scoring,' " Aland said. "No one's even close to my size on this level, and I just use the gift I've got to be the best I can."